A controversial natural gas pipeline proposed to run from New Jersey to New York would have “limited adverse environmental impacts” if built, a federal regulator has found.
In a report released today, staff members from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said the project by Spectra Energy “would be an environmentally acceptable action,” concluding that any adverse impacts would occur mostly during construction. The report brings the Houston-based firm one step closer to being able to build the 20-mile pipeline, which would run through part of Union and Hudson counties.
The plan still requires approval by the commission’s board, although no vote has been scheduled, said Tamara Young-Allen, an agency spokesman. She said the plan has “a voluminous record, so they need some time to review it.”
Spectra, which is attempting to expand its interstate pipeline systems, has said the new pipeline would service parts of New Jersey. Spokeswoman Marylee Hanely said the firm has signed agreements to provide natural gas to two Garden State customers through the new pipeline — International-Matex Tank Terminals, a national bulk liquids storage company in Bayonne, and Bayonne Plant Holding LLC, a power generator.
But the plan has come under fire from environmental advocates and officials in Jersey City, while stirring up talks of a lawsuit from opponents.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy slammed the report by the commission’s staff. He said the recommendations were “not surprising,” but that the pipeline could endanger environmental resources, billions of dollars in economic infrastructure and city residents.
Healy also said the city and its allies will continue to fight “to thwart the applicant’s efforts to ram through this project without appropriate scrutiny or transparency.
“We will employ every means at our disposal to avert the danger posed by the pipeline,” he said. “Our residents, businesses, and environment deserve nothing less.”
The federal commission’s report outlined several reasons for its conclusion, including that 65 percent of the work would take place on existing rights-of-way, minimizing tree clearing. The staff also submitted a series of “specific mitigation measures” for Spectra to follow if it proceeds with construction.